Clean-up is underway in the southwest Iowa town of Lenox, which took a direct hit from at least one tornado late Wednesday afternoon. Lenox Mayor Glenn Grout says up to 15 city blocks have heavy damage, with roofs ripped off and two-story homes reduced to one story or less. He says 20 more city blocks in Lenox have moderate damage.
“We’re in the process right now of just getting assessments this morning,” Mayor Grout says. “We still don’t have power back on in the really bad damaged area, a lot of tree limbs and major, major damage in that area.”
Grout says it’s remarkable there are no reports of any deaths or serious injuries in the town of 1,400. “I’ve heard roofs off, garages gone, trees,” Grout says. “We’re just very fortunate that we had no loss of life.” The mayor’s asking well-meaning people who want to lend a hand — and gawkers, especially — to avoid the Taylor County community, as it’s a monumental mess and very hazardous, with so many downed trees and power lines.
“Let us get our breath and see what our needs are,” the mayor says. “We have several power crews through the utility coming in here. We’re just asking the general public to hold off. We will give a call out and let people know if we need help, where they can go.” A damage assessment team from the National Weather Service will survey the area in southwest Iowa this morning.
Meteorologist Roger Vachalek says it’s still unclear how many tornadoes hit the region last night. Vachalek says, “The tornadoes that did touch down yesterday across the southwestern counties, we’re still in the process of evaluating what happened.” There were reports of funnel clouds and possible tornadoes in several areas of Adams, Taylor and Union counties, including near Kent, Sharpsburg and Corning. He says wind gusts reached 65 miles an hour during the storm, along with flash flooding.
“Probably three to four inches of rainfall, maybe a little bit more than that in some cases,” Vachalek says. “There was some report of hail, too. Two-inch hail near Nodaway in Adams County.”
The storm’s leaving behind cooler temperatures. While records were set in the mid and upper 90s earlier this week, it’ll be in the 70s and 80s today across Iowa, with highs only in the 60s through the weekend.